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The Euroleague Commercial Assets Shareholders Executive Board met remotely on Monday, May 25, for the fourth time since the season was suspended on March 12 due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) global pandemic.
Following the decision taken on March 12 to temporarily suspend all Euroleague Basketball competitions, the league, clubs, players and all stakeholders have maintained their willingness and continuous efforts to resume the competitions.
Having explored every possible option, the Executive Board has made the decision to cancel the 2019-20 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup, as well as the Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament and EuroLeague Academy due to the following considerations:
- The health and safety of our athletes, fans, staff, partners and local communities remains our top priority
- The varied evolution of COVID-19 in different EuroLeague and EuroCup territories does not guarantee that all teams can hold their training camp and prepare for official games under the same conditions
- The above has resulted in local authorities imposing differing restrictions on the movements of their citizens, with no guarantees that all teams can travel to and from the designated location
- A reduced training camp schedule compared to the previously approved three weeks minimum would cause an increased injury risk for players
- For reasons of sporting integrity, all competition system modifications including a reduced number of teams were discarded
- Despite elaborating an exhaustive medical protocol for the competitions, the medical protocols currently being implemented by public health authorities require a period of self-isolation for any player, coach or referee that tests positive for COVID-19. Therefore, during the past two and a half months the necessary guarantee that the competitions could be completed regularly in July has not been obtained
- Our decision not to modify self-imposed deadlines – late May for taking a final decision and late July to finish the competitions – in order to avoid changing and impacting the 2020-21 calendar, including domestic league games as well as national team games in summer 2021
In keeping with our continued values of sports integrity and fairness, the Executive Board decided not to recognize any team as the champion for the 2019-20 EuroLeague, nor the EuroCup.
Euroleague Basketball thanks the many cities and regions that have shown their commitment to basketball in recent weeks, including volunteering to host the remaining EuroLeague and EuroCup games with maximum health, safety and operational guarantees, including in several cases, full government support. These candidates have put forth enormous effort and displayed great determination to ensure that every detail was in place to hold a safe and successful end of season.
Statement from Euroleague Basketball President & CEO Jordi Bertomeu:
"Without a doubt, this is the most difficult decision we have had to take in our 20-year history. Due to reasons beyond our control, we have been forced to cut short the most successful and exciting season in European basketball history. This comes after two and a half months in which all the league's stakeholders maintained their determination and exhausted every possible avenue in trying to deliver a complete and uniquely special season to our fans, whose passion is the driving force for all our efforts. That is our commitment and our passion every single season, and so falling short due to forces beyond anyone's control is what saddens us most. Nonetheless, record-breaking data showing how much our fans enjoyed the games to date gives us more energy than ever to start planning for an even better 2020-21 season.
"I am especially proud of how the EuroLeague and EuroCup communities have remained united in incredibly tough times. Proud of our clubs and their ownership for the courage in their decisions and for their generous contributions to their communities in such difficult times. Proud of our commercial partners, who have shown their continued commitment to and belief in our brand and what it represents. Proud of our players, coaches and referees who have been supportive and understanding throughout. Proud of our fans, who have remained close to us and have constantly expressed how much they wanted the competitions to come back. This is an extraordinary community, and we are privileged to be a part of it.
"Obviously, we had many motivations to resume the 2019-20 season, but in such an exceptional situation, we have to put people’s health first and ahead of any other interest: our players, our coaches, our referees, our clubs, their staff, our league staff, our broadcasters, and all of their families. By doing so, we stay true to our beliefs and what we stand for.
"In the coming months we only have one mission: to do everything in our power to help our communities come back stronger, and to build the best version of ourselves – on and off the court – for when we can be reunited with the fans. This is not an end, but rather a new beginning.”
Additionally, the Executive Board agreed on the following with regards to the 2020-21 season:
- The 2020-21 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season will count upon the participation of the same 18 teams, namely: ALBA Berlin, Anadolu Efes Istanbul, AX Armani Exchange Milan, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, CSKA Moscow, FC Barcelona, FC Bayern Munich, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, Khimki Moscow Region, KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, Olympiacos Piraeus, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, Real Madrid, Valencia Basket, Zalgiris Kaunas and Zenit St Petersburg
- The 2020-21 7DAYS EuroCup season will reserve guaranteed spots for the eight teams that qualified for the 2019-20 quarterfinals, namely: AS Monaco, Partizan NIS Belgrade, Promitheas Patras, Segafredo Virtus Bologna, Tofas Bursa, Umana Reyer Venezia, Unicaja Malaga and UNICS Kazan. The remaining 16 spots will be awarded to teams qualifying through their domestic leagues’ final standings. As in previous seasons the EuroCup Board will propose the final team list for approval by the ECA Shareholders Meeting
- 2020-21 EuroLeague training camps will run for extended durations compared to previous seasons in order to allow players to recover their physical and mental shape in time for the new season
- The 2020-21 EuroLeague and EuroCup seasons will start on October 1 and September 30, 2020, respectively, as previously approved. The league and clubs will continue to monitor the evolution of COVID-19, staying in close contact with governments and public health authorities to ensure optimal conditions for all participants when the season starts
- EuroLeague Basketball and its clubs will devote all possible efforts and launch league-wide and individual actions to support their community’s recovery efforts
- EuroLeague Basketball will explore opportunities to organize a season-opening charity event to celebrate the EuroLeague’s return to the court
Euroleague Basketball thanks all clubs and players for the incredible and unparalleled spectacle they have put on the floor during the 2019-20 season. All league stakeholders want to express their special gratitude to all the fans who continuously and tirelessly support their clubs and the league. Once again, this season the fans have set all-time records, and their support encourages players, coaches, referees, league and club managers to continue to offer the best of the best in elite competitive basketball. Among the 2019-20 EuroLeague season data highlights*:
- 15% growth in fan interest across EuroLeague markets, with a positive trend in each one. France, Israel, Turkey, Spain and Germany registered the highest growth rates
- 15% growth in TV audience, with impressive rises in France, Italy, Israel and Germany
- Double-digit growth in digital platforms, including followers, reach, video views and engagement, as well as in unique users, pageviews and sessions on euroleague.net
- 12% growth in attendance and 75% of average arena occupancy
*The data, sourced from Nielsen Sports, Blinkfire Analytics and EuroLeague clubs, in order to be comparable audits covers the October-to-March period of each of the last two seasons and therefore excludes the end of the regular season, the playoffs and the Final Four, which traditionally bring further percentage increases in all metrics. In some cases, data from the unfinished 2019-20 season surpasses that of the entire 2018-19 season.
All decisions taken by the Executive Board will be presented at the ECA Shareholders Meeting for formal approval.